Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the Harry Potter world, including the names of the characters. All of those belong to J.K Rowling.
Warning: This story is rated M for a reason. The more we advance in the plot, the more there will be adult themes present and explored. Even in the first part of the story, there will be violence, death and blood.
This is an AU story of the Harry Potter world. As such, it has some major changes from the books and the movies. It starts from the name of the main character and her importance in the Wizarding world.
Note: This chapter was corrected and modified by MasterQwertster, who graciously accepted to serve as my beta. Don't hesitate to thank her!
The odds were never in my favour
1 June 1991, Unknown place
'Gigantic' or 'impossibly large' were words which perfectly applied to this throne room.
If modern architects had been able to estimate its size, they would have found its volume vastly larger than the within palace of famous royal residences built by kings and emperors in centuries pasts. The pillars and columns which supported the colossal and decorated ceiling were pure marble. The floor was covered in costly and rare carpets. Priceless and innumerable paintings and tapestries adorned the endless walls. At the very extremity of this very large hall, a colossal throne, glittering with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other rare precious stones was standing. The stairs leading to it were made of polished silver, while the majestic seat was shining in onyx and gold. As a whole, if this symbol of power should ever be melted, the sheer price of the metals composing it would be enough to erase the debts of several small-sized nations. The price after counting the invaluable jewels and the decorations around it would be much higher. The statues, ornaments, candelabras, and other objects placed at regular intervals would surely add hundreds of millions to this stunning and colossal fortune.
All of this opulence and pomp seemed to be lost on the current occupants, however. Twelve individuals were standing in front of the throne. Wrapped in long and flowing robes of multicoloured silks and masks to conceal their identities, their long and elaborate clothes were not enough to conceal their anxiety. Not a sound could be heard in the gigantic throne room, as all those present waited anxiously for their master on the throne to speak.
"I sometimes wonder," said the being sitting on the throne in a calm, contemplative voice, "who among you is the least competent."
Like his followers, nothing allowed any clue about who or what was speaking. Unlike the beings in front of him, however, the difficulty didn't come from any mask he wore. A mass of darkness was extruded from his body, safeguarding his identity more so than any ordinary mask could. From the darkness, the voice rose a bit in what an unbiased observer would have qualified as amusement.
"The competition is so fierce I can hardly make up my mind."
The twelve individuals in front of him, even with their robes masking their facial reactions, shivered in unease.
"To be fair, your Majesty," began the violet robe one of the twelve, "None of our plans are in jeopardy. The theft of a Philosopher Stone is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. None of our really critical operations are in danger of being discovered."
"Interesting opinion, Knight Alchemist." replied the dark figure on the throne in an icy tone. "And indeed one we believe accurate. Otherwise, you would have been already removed for such a display of incompetence, of course."
None of the figures facing the throne were stupid enough to miss the threat in these words.
"Do we know how they managed to bypass the protections of the Brise-Roc citadel?" asked the individual standing on the right side of the throne. As the dark being on the seat was coated in a mass of darkness, this one was covered a more subtle dark grey cloud with a feminine voice.
"We have some clues, My Queen." admitted the Knight Alchemist. "Unfortunately, the goblins we hired to defend the fortress were a bit too zealous in their duty. The only prisoner we took from the assaulting force died three hours ago without one member of our Order being able to interrogate him." A movement of his large robe translated the equivalent of a roll of shoulders. "As it is beyond even my powers to interrogate a corpse, all I could do was identify the man we caught. His name was Markus Treneier... and he was on our lists as a known German sympathiser of the Order of the Phoenix."
"Wonderful!" growled a being hidden by orange robes. "So your assurances that everything is fine are worth nothing! Albus Dumbledore is behind this assault and you know it!"
"I didn't say..." replied the violet robe in an angry voice.
"Enough." The cold and shivering voice coming from the throne stopped the argument instantly.
"The involvement of our dear Grand Sorcerer," this time the sarcasm was impossible to miss, "makes no difference in our projects. The theft of one Philosopher Stone will in no way upset significantly our long-term plans."
"However," the darkness-shrouded king continued after a moment of silence. "I do not intend to give the Defeater of Grindelwald the chance to find the means to use a Philosopher Stone against us. Knight Alchemist, you will send a Pawn to recover it, or if it is not possible, destroy the stolen artefact."
"Yes, your Majesty," said the being wearing violet, bowing ceremoniously and racing towards the end of the room in what could have been accurately described as fleeing.
"Yes, your Majesty?" said one of the eleven beings remaining in front of the throne, this one wearing a red robe.
"While the citadel of Brise-Roc was valuable for storing our least valuable heirlooms and experiments, continuing to use it right now is too risky. Empty vaults one to fifteen. Leave the rest and prepare traps should our mysterious raiders come back for a second assault."
"As you wish, your Majesty. And the goblins?"
"They failed in their primary task. They are expendable. Use them as bait." Was the sinister answer.
The calm came back to the throne room, all the participants except the entity on the throne leaving.
As they began to walk out of the hall, a menacing whisper sounded behind them.
"No one opposes the Exchequer and lives."
23 June 1991, 4 Private Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey
Alexandra Victoria Potter looked around her small bedroom, contemplating powerlessly the devastation that had been brought upon the few things she owned. Apparently, having escaped after the disaster of the zoo had been one of her brighter ideas. She might not have survived the beating Vernon Dursley would have given her. Better to go steal some food and different things around Little Whinging, and then come back when Vernon and the rest of the Dursley family were asleep and (hopefully) calmed. She had no wish to endure the belt beatings again.
To say Alexandra hated her uncle, aunt and cousin with passion would have been a gross understatement. She had been under their roof for ten years, and so far it had been ten miserable, bloody years, with what her trying to survive the trials of living with such loathsome beings seemed to imply. At five years old, her uncle had begun to leave her in a cupboard for uninterrupted weeks without any food, leaving her no choice: she had had to find the means to escape or die. Stealing from the purse of Vernon Dursley had been one of her first illegal actions. But as she was forced to withdraw only small sums not to attract the attention of her uncle and aunt, Alexandra had started stealing from the families of the children tormenting her in Little Whinging, before robbing some of their homes. It was poetic justice in her opinion. They were stealing her happiness. The raven-haired girl would steal their material possessions.
But the Dursleys had not stopped there. When she had been seven, her cousin Dudley had tried to drown her in a swimming pool. At nine, her uncle had given her such a beating it was a miracle she was even alive. In fact, on both occasions her memories of the aftermath were fuzzy and vague. But the deep look of loathing her relatives had sent her months after were proof the events had definitely happened.
When she had been younger, she had dreamed of some unknown relative coming and taking her away, but it had never happened. For some sad and unfair reason, the Dursleys were the only persons she had blood ties with, Aunt Petunia being the only sister of her mother. Sometimes, she wondered how her maternal grandparents had done such a bad job in educating their daughter.
Alexandra had never been treated as part of this family for as long as she remembered. In the first five years she had spent there, she had been more often called "freak" than her name. Before she managed to get them into trouble for Dudley's eighth birthday, she had been sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs. She was never in any photograph inside the house. Neither were her parents for that matter. She was constantly forced to do dozens of chores to deserve any food or right to use the bathroom. She had never received any presents from them. Everything she was given was Dudley's old things. The room she was in was a prime example of this: small, with an even smaller bed and an old armoire, it had been and was still used by Dudley to store all his toys and junk which were still unbroken but that her cousin wanted to keep for some reason or another. That Alexandra slept in said room was absolutely of no importance.
Given that today had been Dudley's birthday, she supposed it was not surprising to find some already broken toys. If she remembered right, Dudley had received thirty-nine presents today. Thirty-nine. Including a brand-new computer, a second television, a video-camera, a remote-control aeroplane, a racing bike, and a multitude of other things she thought Dudley would break at the earliest opportunity. Assuming he even used some of them once; she was particularly dubious concerning the matter of the racing bike, for example.
Not that her cousin's intelligence had ever impressed her. From the start of his scholarship at Saint Gregory's primary school, Dudley had never managed to beat her once in class, and she had decided long ago that it would never happen. Completely out of the question to lower her mark to her cousin's level (which was, if someone asked her opinion, dreadful). She had paid for it, of course. The first time she brought home a school report, she had been beaten to dare having better marks than the precious "Diddykins". As if something more intelligent than a pigeon could not do better than her fat cousin.
The only refuge she had at school was the library, where a bully like Dudley never set a foot in (or only under a teacher's order). It had been her only refuge, which had given her the opportunity to read dozens of books, including the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. A world of elves, dwarves, humans and hobbits had become one of her best hobbies to escape this dreadful reality for an hour or two. Tolkien had become her favourite author, although she had also liked learning quotes from several politicians of the past to take courage from (and find a good retort to enrage Vernon). It was all she had left, after all.
Because in the rest of the school, Dudley and his friends Malcolm, Piers, Dennis and Gordon were quite content to terrorize the children who had the temerity to cross their paths. Headmistress Roemmelle was a friend of Uncle Vernon, and as a result, order was never quickly restored when the guilty party was Dudley and his band. This band of bullies had often wanted to use her as a punching bag; unfortunately for them and fortunately for her, she was in a much better physical condition than them, not passing her evenings in a couch eating hamburgers, chips and other junk food. She had also practised jogging twice a week which had (mostly) ended their attempts at their Alexandra-hunting games by the time she was ten years old. Though the Dursleys had not become nicer.
Sighing, she turned to see her reflection in the mirror. Thin, of average height for her ten years old and eleven months, she had long black hair, a pale complexion and bright-green eyes. She did not know which of her parents had given her these traits, but it was the eyes she preferred. By contrast, her hair had a tendency to be unruly and difficult to tame. Alas, Alexandra had not the money to buy hair products. She had only to look at her clothes to know she had far more urgent monetary needs to solve.
With her uncle and aunt only giving her Dudley's old clothes, the only things which could be qualified as average in her personal wardrobe were the things she stole, or the things she bought with the money she had stolen from her so-called family. So were the sheets and the pillow on her bed. So was the money dissimulated under a secret compartment under her bed. She didn't like breaking the law, no matter the daily shouts of her uncle that she was soon going to be sent to some centre of correction for young criminals or another (not that he had any proof of her illegal activities). But with her uncle intent on starving her before her eleventh birthday, stealing was not a choice for her. It was a matter of survival.
Alexandra's only advantage in this fight for her life was that her uncle had no clue how much his ideas about her "freakishness" were in fact not a product of his ugly imagination but well-anchored in reality. So far, she had managed to make some objects levitate, change the colour of her hair, change the colour of her eyes, change the colour of someone else's hair, and teleport herself to the other side of the town.
The last power had been very useful in forging herself quite solid alibis when she was under suspicion for having stolen something or some mischief that befell Dudley Dursley and his band of brutes. Too bad Uncle Vernon never believed her. And because his job was director of Grunnings, a drill manufacturing company, he had enough leeway and influence in Little Whinging to make sure no one would believe her. When it wasn't enough, the Dursley family wasn't above bribing those who didn't believe them.
Like today. Usually, the day of June 23rd was one of the nicest days of her life, as the Dursley always went out with their spoiled son to a park or another attraction while leaving Alexandra in the care of a batty neighbour named Mrs Figg. As the woman was obsessed with her menagerie of cats, it was not hard to avoid her vigilance and escape, which meant this day was a free day where she didn't need to run to escape Dudley's gang and Vernon's beatings.
This illusion of a happy day had lasted until the phone call from a disgruntled Mrs Figg, who had seemingly broken her leg (no doubt marching on one of her numerous cats). Just after that, Dudley had proven how spoiled he was by almost toppling the table because he had ONLY thirty-six presents (he had had thirty-eight last year). Only the promise of three more gifts had been enough to calm him. As a consequence of this unfortunate development, she had been forced to accompany her cousin and his brute of a friend Piers Polkiss to the zoo. She had been forced to hear all the complaints her uncle made about how life was unjust to him (a fact she found extremely pleasant to believe in) criticizing people at work, the neighbours, the banks, the world in general, and of course, Alexandra herself. In these circumstances, it was best to be silent and try to forget the presence of the man altogether.
Once they arrived at the zoo, it had been Dudley's moment to shine, so to speak. Each time Dudley saw someone who had a bigger ice cream than him, a new ice cream had to be bought. Each time a new animal refused to do what Dudley thought "interesting", her cousin threw a tantrum. By lunch, she had a monumental headache, and she could not even go her own way in the crowd: she was under no illusion that the Dursleys would "forget" her at the exit if she was not with them. The reptile house had not helped. Dudley had whined "Move! Move!" to the snakes and lizards present there. Of course the snakes had refused to cooperate. Two hours later she snapped. While Piers was busy throwing rocks at a hippopotamus, Dudley thought the moment well-chosen to explain how her dead mother was like the animals in question.
Her rage had been so consuming in that instant that she had not controlled her abilities. One moment after his last insult, Dudley fell inexplicably and quite violently into the hippopotamus's pool. The Dursleys and the veterinary they were speaking with had stared half a minute open-mouthed. Too bad she hadn't had a camera with her. Too bad, also, that the reputation of the hippopotamus was way overrated.
The aforementioned animals had not even intervened against Dudley's intrusion in their pool. The biggest danger for her cousin had come from his awful performance in swimming. After that, she had fled as if Sauron's Nazguls had been in pursuit. Vernon's face had been a nice shade of purple and he was shouting almost incoherent insults into his moustache.
Alexandra wasn't stupid enough to stay in Vernon's presence when he was on a warpath like that. She had been forced to walk hours to go back home as she was too far to use teleportation with precision, but that was okay as she had the time to steal herself some food at the zoo before marching back to the Dursley's house. Taking the car would have been quicker, but would have also sent her into a cupboard with no sustenance until she managed to get out. Depending on Vernon and Petunia's vigilance, that could take days.
Falling onto her bed after sweeping off the junk Dudley had thrown upon it, Alexandra closed her eyes, trying to cheer herself that she had a little more than five years before leaving this hellish prison. In the meantime, she would continue to imagine all the dreadful accidents which would befall her "family" when she could finally leave.
28 July 1991, 4 Privet Drive, Surrey, England
After Dudley's epic swim in the zoo's pool, life returned to normal quickly in Little Whinging. Apart from the fact that the words hippo, zoo and pool were now forbidden in the household, the Dursley family returned to its disgusting habits. The summer holidays started, and Dudley proceeded to destroy, explode, annihilate or damage the quasi-totality of the things he had received upon his birthday. The new cine-camera had been torn apart by one of Mrs Figg's enraged cats, the remote-control aeroplane crashed on a neighbour's roof, and the racing bike was literally pulverised trying to ram the car of Headmistress Roemmelle (Dudley narrowly avoided being escorted to the police station on this one). With school over, the Dudley's gang did not miss an occasion to reform and practise Alexandra-hunting (although Piers had apparently nicknamed it "Freak-hunting") and they visited the household every single day, which forced Alexandra to spend as much time as possible outside Little Whinging. In these long periods of solitude, she used her abilities to steal what she needed, wandering around to search new stealing grounds, doing physical exercise to maintain her endurance, and wondering about the future.
For once, there was a light in the usual darkness. When school started in September 1991 she would go off to secondary school and she wouldn't be in the same establishment as Dudley. Her cousin had, gods only knew how (though she had suspicions bribery might be involved), obtained a place at Uncle Vernon's old school, Smeltings. His great friend Piers Polkiss was going there too. Alexandra, on the other hand, had not gotten such privileged treatment (despite being third in her year while Dudley was at the bottom of the rankings) and was going to Stonewall High, the local secondary school. Dudley, naturally, thought this was a very funny situation.
"They stuff people's heads down the toilet first day at Stonewall," he told Alexandra. "Want to come upstairs and practise?"
"No thanks," said Alexandra. "The poor toilet's suffered enough with you on it, I refuse to do further damage." Then she calmly began to walk away, preparing to run when Dudley would work out that she'd insulted him.
On July 17th, Aunt Petunia took Dudley to London to buy his Smeltings uniform, supposedly leaving Alexandra at Mrs Figg's house. As the woman had broken her leg tripping over one of her cats (which it seemed had decreased her love for the species in question), Alexandra wasted no time in leaving her side and the putrid odour of cat food and cat dejections.
That evening, Dudley paraded around the living-room for the family in his brand-new uniform. Smeltings boys wore maroon tailcoats, light orange knickerbockers and flat straw hats called boaters. They also carried knobbly sticks, which Vernon claimed they used for hitting each other while the teachers weren't looking. This was supposed to be good training for later life, which Alexandra wholeheartedly approved of, as long as it was for the training of brutes and bullies.
As he looked at Dudley in his new clothes, Vernon said gruffly that it was the proudest moment of his life. Petunia burst into tears and said she couldn't believe it was her Ickle Dudleykins, he looked so handsome and grown-up.
Alexandra, however, didn't trust herself to speak. The sentences that would have come out would have been too humiliating and sarcastic. At eleven, Dudley looked positively ridiculous in his new uniform, being quite on a way to becoming as large as he was high. At the speed he was growing, her cousin would undoubtedly need a new uniform before May 1992. Not laughing or smiling at this spectacle was one of the hardest things she had done in her life.
Then came July 28th. Alexandra's birthday. As usual there was no birth cake or any presents. Not that she waited on the former or the latter, this hope had died long ago, and her eleventh birthday was treated with all the ignorance the Dursleys had towards insignificant events in which there were no possible gain to be made.
However, there was a horrible smell in the kitchen when Alexandra went in to cook breakfast that morning. The odour seemed to be coming from a large metal tub in the sink, where things looking like dirty rags were floating in a grey liquid.
"What is this thing?" he asked Aunt Petunia. Her aunt's lips tightened as they always did if she dared to speak in her presence.
"Your new school uniform." answered Petunia.
Alexandra peered into the bowl again, this time with disgust plain on her face.
"Oh," she said with all the sarcasm she had in her. "I didn't realise the uniform had to smell so strongly."
"Don't be stupid," snapped Aunt Petunia. "I'm dyeing some of Dudley's old things grey for you. It'll look just like everyone else's when I've finished."
Alexandra did not believe a word of this, but thought it best not to reply, as the argument would be pointless: her aunt had obviously already made her mind on the subject. She sat down at the table and shivered at the idea of wearing that on her first day at Stonewall High – like she was wearing bits of a dead, putrid animal, in all probability. Sighing, she realised she would have to use some of the stolen money she kept in reserve to buy a proper uniform for her classes. There was no way she would go to school in these dregs.
Dudley and Uncle Vernon then came in, both looking like walruses with wrinkled noses because of the smell from Alexandra's supposed new uniform. Uncle Vernon opened his newspaper as usual and Dudley banged his Smeltings stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.
At this exact moment, they heard the click of the letter-box and flop of letters on the doormat.
"Get the post, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.
"Make Alexandra get it," groaned Dudley, as he began to eat his breakfast with the enthusiasm and the manners of a pig.
"Get the post, Alexandra!" Was predictably the next sentence uttered by Vernon.
"Make Dudley get it," she groaned.
"Poke her with your Smeltings stick, Dudley," grunted Vernon, which seemed to be the only answer her uncle had this last week when he wanted her to do something.
She dodged the Smeltings stick as usual (Dudley was so slow it wasn't even a challenge) and went to get the post. Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard from Uncle Vernon's sister Marge ( a person even stupider and crazier than Vernon and Petunia combined if it were possible) who was holidaying on the Isle of Wight, a white envelope that looked like a bank report or something like that and – a letter for Alexandra.
She picked it up, wondering who in hell would send her a letter on this day. The only letters she received came from school, and it had been only after the teachers realised giving her school reports would ensure the Dursleys would never see it (copying Vernon's signature had been one the first things she had learnt there) and stared at it with incredulity. She had no friends (something Dudley was quite guilty for,) no other relatives – and while it was possible it was a letter from the local library she hadn't borrowed a book there the last month (coming back home with a book was tantamount to acknowledging its destruction at the hands of Dudley). Yet here it was, a letter, addressed with an accuracy that was disturbing to say the least:
Miss A. Potter
The Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellow-white parchment like the ones used to write letters three centuries ago, and the address was written in emerald-green ink. There was no stamp, which posed the interesting question as to how the letter had arrived there.
Turning the envelope over, Alexandra saw the mysterious letter was sealed with purple wax bearing a coat of arms; which looked like a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter 'H'.
"Hurry up, girl!" shouted Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. "What are you doing, checking for letter-bombs?" He chuckled at his own joke.
Ignoring her uncle with the practise of someone having heard this pathetic joke a hundred of times, Alexandra opened the envelope and began to read.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards)
Dear Miss Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
It explained everything she supposed. Normal girls weren't supposed to have powers. Normal girls didn't teleport when they were in danger. What she did, what allowed her to escape Dudley's gang and steal everything she needed to survive, was magic.
"Hurry up, girl!" shouted Vernon.
Alexandra went back into the kitchen with a very unpleasant smile on her face, throwing down onto the table the two other letters.
"So Aunt Petunia," she said with a tone so sarcastic it could have dried the Thames in an instant. "At which point of my life were you planning to tell me I'm a witch?"
The Dursleys reaction went over all her expectations. Petunia emitted a moan of agony, becoming completely livid and falling onto a chair before almost fainting. Vernon turned to a violet-red colour like she had just insulted him a dozen times to his face. Dudley just stared open-mouthed like a goldfish.
"You knew," Alexandra said, as she turned to look Petunia in the eyes.
"Knew?" shrieked Aunt Petunia, regaining some colour as she threw a tantrum. "Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that – that school – and came home every holiday with her pockets full of frog-spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was – a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!"
She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went ranting on. It seemed she had wanted to say all this for years.
"Then she met that Potter boy at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as – as – abnormal – and then she went and got herself murdered and we got landed with you!"
"So it wasn't a car crash, then?" Alexandra stated and emitting a sound of disgust when her aunt nodded.
Profiting from the fact the whole family seemed to be in a state of shock, she took the time to reread the letter.
"We await your owl." Alexandra read again, out loud this second time. She looked up at Petunia and asked "Do you know how to get money and school supplies?"
"Yes, I know that place where my sister went to buy her things," she drawled. No matter what had happened there, it was evidently not her aunt's fondest memories.
"Then you will give me the directions I need," said Alexandra. "In return..."
"NO!" Shouted Vernon. "YOU WON'T GO TO THIS SCHOOL! YOU WON'T CAUSE FURTHER FREAKINESS! I WON'T LET YOU GO SOMEWHERE WHEN..."
All this rant caused Alexandra a huge headache, and her only wish was to stop. Which, with her powers, became a reality soon enough, as Vernon roars didn't make any sound anymore.
"I wasn't asking for your permission, Uncle." She affirmed in a cold voice, seeing her uncle hold his throat as he was silenced for half a minute. "Hundreds of times, you were proud to say you would be rid of me at the first occasion and when the occasion comes to send me away for several months per year you refuse to let me go. Make up your mind."
It was amusing to see the brain of her uncle trying to struggle between his fear of his niece learning further freakishness and the joy of not having the duty of living with her during the greatest part of a year. She could almost see the smoke coming out of his ears.
"Very well," he grunted after five minutes of silence, when her power ceased to silence him. "I will allow you to go to this school." The distaste for anything unnatural and against his principles was clear, but his desire to see her leave this house for many months had won out.
"Good." said Alexandra, before climbing up the stairs, letter in hand to make her way back to her room before Vernon and Petunia changed their minds.
Alexandra Victoria Potter supposed she should be feeling excited. She was going to learn magic. She was not going to live with the Dursleys for the next school year. She was going to learn what really happened to her parents. She was going to begin her ascension into the vast and unknown world.
Somehow, however, she felt it wouldn't be that simple. After all, if ten years living at Little Whinging had taught her something, it was that the odds were never in her favour.